Squash is a racket sport which requires a great deal of physical endurance and coordination. The modern game of squash is thought to have first developed at a British boarding school in London, in 1830, as an adapted form of the game of rackets. Rackets evolved from tennis as players used their tennis rackets to hit the ball off of walls instead of over-top of a net. The boys at Harrow School were keen on playing rackets, but the school courts were small and overrun with obstacles such as pipes and ledges. To suit the school's cramped conditions, the boys began to shorten their rackets. The game caught on in other boarding schools. By the 20th century, it had gained so much popularity that the Titanic housed a squash court in the first class section. The reach of the Commonwealth ensured that squash would be introduced on every continent. Over the years, squash equipment has become optimized through research and technology. Notably, the rackets are made out of lighter, composite materials so that players can swing more efficiently. Also, it is possible to purchase different types of balls based on the 'hang time,' or ball speed, that one finds suitable
As squash seems only to be popular in certain circles of people, it is worth describing a bit about how the game actually works. Two players take turns using their rackets to hit a small rubber ball against the front wall of the court. The ball may bounce on the ground once after hitting the front wall, but after that the player is required to return the ball. Interestingly, it is possible to play the game with four players in doubles games. Scoring systems tend to vary greatly depending on the country in which one is playing. Although, there now exists a standard system called point-a-rally, which is used by most amateur and professional squash associations. Squash is an extremely fast paced game, partly due to the fact that the ball heats up and picks up speed the longer a rally lasts. Eye protection is absolutely crucial for player safety, and as such, most venues insist on goggles being worn in the courts at all times. While this level intensity guarantees an incredible cardiovascular workout for most people, some studies have indicated that squash could be quite dangerous for older men who have heart disease.
Squash is played in 185 different countries by approximately 20 million athletes. Despite its massive popularity, squash is not yet an Olympic sport, but it has a spawned a thriving professional and amateur community. Squash is played in the Commonwealth Games and has been for many years. The current world champion in men's squash is Karim Abdel Gawad, an Egyptian player with the nickname Baby-Faced Assassin. The women's world champion, Nour El Sherbini, is also Egyptian. She claims to have started playing squash at age 6, entering her first tournament at the age of 8! Egyptians seem to regularly dominate the squash world with notable exceptions such as Jahangir Khan of Pakistan, who is considered the greatest player in the history of squash.